This question got me thinking, would attending gliding lessons at the same time as my airplane training make me safer in a small plane or microlight?


2 Answers 2


Yes learn both, but... not at the same time. As Dave says, there are too many differences to be absorbing simultaneously. It's like a new airline pilot taking a type course on a Dash 8 and an RJ at the same time. It'll burn you out.

If all this is a hobby activity in the first place with no urgent time lines, drop the power training for now and go take a glider course. When you have your glider license, resume the power course (in most jurisdictions you get a bit of credit you can apply to the power license).

Absolutely no question that a power pilot who learned to fly gliders first, and especially if they became proficient in soaring, will be a superior power pilot. Without the engine there, you learn fine motor skills, control coordination, energy management and speed control, and the ways of the atmosphere, to a degree that a power student doesn't and simply can't. It also helps to remove a lot of the terror at the thought of dealing with engine failures. I learned power in 1975 and gliders in 1993, and wish I'd started on gliders first.

And you may just discover that soaring is the sport for you. You have to try it and get into it, and experience the incredible rush of climbing at 500 fpm in a thermal without an engine, that you found by trolling the sky, or spotting a hawk and joining him (and seeing him just look at you and carry on as if you weren't there), that may be a struggle to stay in or may be an easy elevator ride, maybe for 30 minutes in the air or 4 hours. No two flights are ever the same. The private owners at my club, on a good day, launch at noon or a little after, and come back at 3 or 4 or 5 pm.

Power flying is mostly enjoying operating a machine that takes you from A to B, or to go sight seeing, in really fun and novel way. Soaring is flying as pure sport; a game you play with the atmosphere. Like sailing a catamaran times ten, vertically. It may not be for you, but if you get into the game, it's like nothing else and it's worth going to find out.

Plus since you're aviating largely on solar energy and at non-profit clubs the instruction is free, it's somewhat cheaper lol.

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    $\begingroup$ "Absolutely no question that a power pilot who learned to fly gliders first, and especially if they became proficient in soaring, will be a superior power pilot." - Here I think of the pilot of the Gimli Glider, and of Captain Sullenberger, both glider pilots. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2019 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ Yep. Even with seemingly simple things like the relationship to pitch attitude and speed, which is simple in a glider without thrust to complicate things, is an easy transition later on when you add power to the mix and have to learn that "pitch+power=performance" stuff. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ This answer has really motivated me to try gliding! The thing I worry about, is I've read gliding clubs expect you to spend the whole day there, rather than going, flying and getting home, like you do in a GA lesson. $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ Well yeah. They function on volunteer labour and most clubs have duty rosters for essential functions like running the flight line, towing and instructing. Some clubs run a half day shift system and only expect you to be around for the hangar unpacking or the packing, meaning you can come in the am and leave after lunch or the opposite, but others expect you to be around all or most of the day. Depends. You will spend more time on site per hour flown, but it's a social experience as well and that's part of the whole thing. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ In a glider club you will be expected to spend quite a bit of the day there. There are the gliders to get in and out, and helping to launch and move gliders on the flightline. You may be sharing your instructor and glider with other students, so may be waiting for that. But you won't be bored, and you'll meet people. The club leaders and instructors are putting in a huge effort, all for free. In many cases you're learning from people with massive experience in commercial and military aviation. Join up, get involved, and become a glider pilot! $\endgroup$
    – idoimaging
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 16:46

No it will make it more dangerous. Gliders and powered aircraft have different flight characteristics. You will have learn how to handle two completely different machines. You will have to develop muscle memory for two different types of aircraft. The flight procedures for the two types of aircraft are completely different, different approach profiles etc. You will have a tendency to either handle the glider like a powered aircraft or treat the SEP like a sailplane, to stop this you will have to actively try to decide what to do rather than instinctively fly the plane.

Gliding is an excellent skill to learn and will improve your flying once you've got enough experience, but learning on two types that are so different is not a good idea.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer is pure opinion with no references at all. $\endgroup$
    – Adam
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ So is the other one, but they are both valid answers. What sort of references are you looking for? Mishap statistics? Studies? I doubt anything exists that breaks training down like this. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2019 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I would prefer the answer be more clear about whether both is bad or just both at once, and try to reconcile how gliding training seems to help in cases like the Gimli glider. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2019 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Harper It's too bad that gliding apparently doesn't help one's ability to convert between pounds and kilograms, though, as the Gimli Glider incident also demonstrates. :) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 23:24

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